Search This Blog

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It finally happened to our family: the dreaded IDENTITY THEFT

I have been writing about the dangers of not protecting your personal data for over six years. I literally threatened readers with the possibility they could lose an average of $373 and take 21 hours to straighten out the mess, according to Javelin’s 2010 report on ID theft. Readers were told it is easy, and commonplace, for the public to read about this happening to others, but not to them.

Fortunately, I never assumed it would never happen to our family, and followed all the preventive tools to keep it from happening. Well…it happened.

We received a call this past Monday from FIS Risk Management, the company that handles account breaches for M&I Bank here in Phoenix, Arizona where our accounts are. The message left on my service said there had been questionable charges against my debit card, and please call them to confirm. No personal information would have to be given, just my name.

Because of my past writings on the issue, and because no company name was given, my next move was to call my bank and confirm the call’s credibility. My representative, Dan, who is one of the primary reasons we bank at M&I, took over and called me back within minutes with the go-ahead, telling me the company, FIS, did represent M&I.

A little background before continuing. We watch our bank account on a daily basis, our credit cards at least twice monthly. We also request free credit reports, both my wife and I, every 4 months. So how could this possibly happen?

The bad guys had stolen our debit card number through some transaction that we could not trace. It happens. What matters is that we were regularly monitoring our credit accounts and bank statements, and banked with a reputable institution that watches out for its customers. The breach did not cost us a penny, and the time spent was minimal.

There were 2 charges against our debit card; one at the Alaska Bayside Hotel for $6.48 and another at the New Mexico Candlewood Suites for $4.26. Since we live in Arizona, and there were no other records of travel to either of these places, a flag went up at the bank. We responded promptly and no damage was done.  Dan replaced the debit cards with new numbers and we are on our way

Yes, the charges were small, and some folks, especially the elderly, might just overlook or just ignore them because of the amount. That’s when the crooks go into action, and their next transaction could empty your bank account.

For the best information on identity theft—prevention, handling, follow-up—go to Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), and change your habits in the future to include regular protection of your private information.

1 comment:

De Ardis and Vera Davis said...

thank you so much for this information!!!!!